Youth Action Challenge x YWLC: Forging New Career Paths

In disruptive times, the instinctive reaction may be to stay put and weather the storm. In recent months, however, jobs are disappearing, roles are adapted and pivoted. Different times call for different ways of thinking.

During times like this, there is a choice to make: Retreat and hide, or push forward and see this as an opportunity for growth and positive change?

On this topic, the three panelists and YWLC members, Serene Cai, Co-founder of Speedoc; Danielle Chan, Co-founder of Citiponics; and Nurin Adila Binte Shahrin, Programme Manager, came together to share their personal stories on navigating non-linear paths to forge their own way, and tips on how to turn uncertainties into opportunities at the Youth Action Challenge x YWLC: Forging New Career Paths Virtual Session on 18 July.

The panelists had an engaging dialogue session, moderated by Evelyn Chew, Business Development Director, YWLC, answering questions from the audience ranging from gaining work experience before starting their own business, to building a side hustle on top of your day job, and useful frameworks when making a leap into the unknown.

Top, L-R: Evelyn Chew, Business Development Director, YWLC; Danielle Chan, Co-founder, Citiponics; Bottom, L-R: Serene Cai, Co-founder, Speedoc; Nurin Adila Binte Shahrin, Programme Manager,

#1: The value of gaining work experience before launching your start-up

It is important to gain work experience. Danielle spent 1.5 years in IBM to build skill sets and gain exposure to the corporate sector before starting Citiponics, while Serene spent time in an advertising agency before venturing out to launch Speedoc. Serene also added that having a clear objective of what you are working for will keep you laser-focused on building useful skill sets in that company or sector.

#2: Building a side hustle on top of your day job

As a freelance UI/UX consultant for a period of time, Danielle advised the need to be patient and allow the time and space to juggle multiple roles, while nourishing the side hustle. Good time management is critical as a side hustle comes with opportunity costs, such as time with friends, family and loved ones.

#3: Useful frameworks when making risky career decisions

Danielle uses a cost-benefit analysis and her advice is to be clear about the long-term goal you have in mind and whether that risky move will get you closer to achieving it. Listen closely to any ‘buts’ in your train of thought in contemplating the move, as it may indicate which aspects your subconscious is uneasy with.

Adila shared the concept of Ikigai, a Japanese term describing the intersection of passion, profession, mission and vocation, to guide her in a structured manner in making her decisions.

Final nuggets of wisdom

To give back and to be thankful

“There for the grace of God go I, this is my toll to the universe for being so exceedingly fortunate.”

Serene uses this quote as a reminder to focus on helping others in return for the great

amount of luck and blessings she has encountered in her life.

Listen to relevant podcasts/interviews, learn from others Danielle shared the Inc. Founders Project, a podcast series that interviews tech entrepreneurs and spoke about how a particularly insightful episode helped her let go of her ego to start acting on ideas, even if they weren’t perfect.

Find the “why” that makes it worthwhile for you

Adila was inspired by the following quote from a letter by Yeo Chee Yen, a former Permanent Secretary of MCCY, at a particularly low point of her career.

“Having a larger sense of purpose is like having a compass, particularly when the going gets tough. Even a dream job will have its low points and “desert times” – whether it is poor chemistry with the boss, a major boo-boo or a disappointment at work. Having a sense of purpose will help you stay the course.

So as poet Rainer Maria Rilke counselled: “Go within.” Reflect on your calling. Find the “why” that makes it worthwhile for you. It will make the many hours you will spend at work add up to a meaningful career.”

With every window that closes, new windows of opportunities open. This pandemic will give birth to new industries and new career paths, and it would be up to you to grab that opportunity to be one of the innovators who helps forge new paths.

This event was held in partnership with Youth Action Challenge. YWLC also thanks its partners, YAC and People’s Association, for their support in putting this panel together.

Adila, one of the event panellists, also moderated the YWLC x Noor Mastura: How to Create an Inclusive Society Together, where the event examined the intersecting identities that women hold, and explored how we can raise efforts to support and empower minority women further. Find out how here.

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